August 29th, 2008
11:09 AM ET
10 years ago

A look at Palin's past

Palin takes a picture with her daughter.

Palin takes a picture with her daughter.

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain Friday picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, CNN has learned.

The 44-year-old Palin, now in her first term as governor, is a pioneering figure in Alaska, the first woman and the youngest person to hold the state's top political job.

She catapulted to the post with a strong reputation as a political outsider, forged during her stint in local politics. She served as mayor and a council member of the small town of Wasilla starting in 1996 and was chairman of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates Alaska's oil and gas resources, in 2003 and 2004.

The conservative Palin defeated two so-called political insiders to win the governor's job, incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in the GOP primary and former two-term Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in the 2006 general election.

Palin made her name in part for backing tough ethical standards for politicians. During the first legislation session after her election, her administration passed a state ethics law overhaul.

Palin's term has not been without controversy. A legislative investigation is looking into allegations that Palin fired Alaska's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, because he refused to fire the governor's former brother-in-law, a state trooper.

Palin acknowledged that a call was made by a member of her staff to a trooper in which the staffer suggested he was speaking for the governor.

Palin has acknowledged that the call could be interpreted as pressure to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, who was locked in a child-custody battle with Palin's sister.

"I am truly disappointed and disturbed to learn that a member of this administration contacted the Department of Public Safety regarding Trooper Wooten," Governor Palin said. "At no time did I authorize any member of my staff to do so."

Palin suspended the staffer who made the call and the investigation is continuing.

Palin has been focused on energy and natural resource policy during her short stint in office, and is well-known for her support of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, a position opposed by Sen. McCain but supported by many grass-roots Republicans.

Her bio on the state governor's Web site says one of the two major pieces of legislation passed during her first legislative session was a competitive process to construct a gas pipeline.

Palin started Alaska's Petroleum Systems Integrity Office - an oversight and maintenance agency for the state's oil and gas equipment, facilities and infrastructure. She created the Climate Change Subcabinet that would forge a climate change strategy, according to the bio.

At present, Palin chairs the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a multi-state panel "that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment," the bio says.

She has been named chair of the National Governors Association's Natural Resources Committee. That panel is focused on legislation to make sure the federal policies take state priorities into account in agriculture, energy, environmental protection and natural resource management.

She is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and practices two of Alaska's popular pastimes - fishing and hunting.

The governor's bio says Palin's other priorities have been "education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development."

The bio touts other achievements during her short stint as governor - the investment of $5 billion in state savings, overhauling educational funding, and implementing a program to help low-income elderly Alaskans.

Born in Idaho, she is a longtime Alaskan and a Protestant. Her biography says she arrived in Alaska in 1964, "when her parents came to teach school in Skagway."

She graduated from Wasilla High School in 1982 and received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987.

Her husband is Todd Palin, who is a lifelong resident of the state and an oil production operator on Alaska's North Slope. They have five children, including a son who enlisted in the Army last year.

Congressional Quarterly notes Palin's other past occupations, including a commercial fishing company owner; outdoor recreational equipment company owner; and sports reporter.

Palin also made an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 2002, Congressional Quarterly said.

Filed under: John McCain • Sarah Palin
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. Brett, Tucson AZ

    Being governor of Alaska – holding that particular office – is not even the political equivalent of being mayor of New York City. In fact the state of Alaska's population is less than that of a SINGLE New York City borrough, to say nothing of its relative lack of political and social complexity. Holding the Alaska governorship – holding it up as one's chief experience in politics – might qualify that person to manage one of the more popular National Parks in the lower 48, but it certainly would not qualify them to stand second in line to the presidency of the United States of America in the 21st century.

    August 29, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    Given some of McCain's sexist comments over the years (his rape joke being the most offensive), I can not honestly see how any woman could support this man, let alone be on the same ticket with him!

    August 29, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Da Kine from Hawaii

    Simply apPalin'!

    Thanks McCain, you made this election a very easy one for Obama/Biden.

    August 29, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |

    M O S T,,,,,,,,,,D E F I N I T E L Y,,,,,,,,,B E L O N G S,,,,,,I N,,,,,T H E,,,R I N G

    August 29, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Cynthia

    Let me start first by saying I'm a Democrat. For me it is not about being a woman it is about experience. To be truthful about it there are a whole lot of Republican women out there that he could have chosen with more experience. I know that they are more than a little bit upset about this.

    August 29, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. CanadianMoose

    This Presidential Election has now been un-mistakenly drawn into a RACE or a GENDER choice.
    Much of it has to do with the DEMOCRATIC between Hillary and Obama.

    If you prefer a BLACK Man Vote Democratic.
    If you prefer a WOMAN vote Republican.

    I dare say the Republicans will win over many Hillary supporters.

    If the Dems attack Palin as inexperienced.
    The top ticket of the Dems will come under similar attacks.

    It is a WISE political move by MCCAIN.
    This coming just after the so called UNITY of the DEMS.

    If there will be no WOMAN PRESIDENT at least there will be a WOMAN VICE PRESIDENT.

    EXCELLENT !!!!!

    August 29, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. Debbie

    No, no thank you McCain. What the heck were you thinking on this one. I don't care if she was mayor and then governer. We have had a governer in the White House for the PAST almost EIGHT YEARS and look where it got us!!

    If something happens to you McCain, she takes over. that is once chance that I cannot take. That's once choice America can't make.

    Hillary in 2012

    August 29, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |


    August 29, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. KenB, MI

    I think this is so cool...but McCain's age is a risk...I really don't like going here but a 4 mo child with...I'd like be around a little longer before jumping around the country. but then again thats what my wife and I think.

    August 29, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Shaik

    As others have said, this is a "Dan Quayle" pick....McSame was playing gender politics...she was not even on the short list! After learning about Biden, he had to roll the dice. She has ZERO foreign policy experience.
    And, McSame is OLD.

    August 29, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. tren

    I think the media is trying to make her exstremely patriotic in the eyes of America. The pictures of her and husband "holding her heart" (pledge) and placing her "hand on the Bible" while taking "oath of office" is subliminal. This is a complete joke and frankly, very sad to say the least. This strategy will not work. OBAMA is patriotic and the USA need to get it settle in their mind that he WILL be our next POTUS.

    CNN please post and don't censor. Thanks!

    August 29, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Marge

    WOW!!! she's so outside her league!!!! She doesn't have a clue at what's about to come at her!!!!
    I actually feel sorry for her....

    August 29, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. Linda31

    I am listening to her speech and this is kind of sad. Actually very sad. I think McCain realized that he was going to lose and decided to make history of his own.

    Not any woman will do!!!!!!!!

    August 29, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  14. cheryl biery

    I just retired after teaching for 30 years. I believe that I am better qualified than Sarah Palin. I have demonstrated very capable leadership skills, the ability to think on my feet, the ability to organize chaos into something most profitable, and the ability to live among and encourage respect for diversity. I have done that for 5,400 days. I was a Hillary supporter who is insulted by the Republican choice. Do Republican males vote for men just because they are men? Geez, maybe that explains the election of George W. Bush! Sarah Palin et al. will not be receiving my vote in November.

    August 29, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. barry c

    gutsy choice......for maverick McCain....

    August 29, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. jenny

    All I see is another reason for Republicans to push more drilliing and forget alternative methods to energy. And how can you state she has more executive experience??? She ran a small town and she's been govenor for 2 years in a state with 670,000 people–what type of experience is that?

    August 29, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. GRANNY OF 5

    I find this not surprising of McCain. He is only playing on the emotions of the Hillary followers, that he would choose a WOMAN ! a woman to sway the votes....I don't put anything past this man.....Who is Sara Palin....I feel a little desperation from McCain..... That is playing on Hillary's intelligence and the American people.

    August 29, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  18. People make no sense

    People will be dumb enough to fall for this trick. McUser needed something to spark his campaign. He wants to gain Hillary's supporters so he uses this woman to do so. Look at how they are talking about her in the same light that the degrade Obama on. America you simply can't be that stupid! Of course you are!

    August 29, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. Andrew

    Next time try someone with a better crime prevention background to help lead. Alaska #48 in pop. #6 in violent crime #1 in forced rape. I just don't feel safer. Ok she can use a gun living in Alaska now I see why.

    August 29, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Wilson, Seattle

    An Idaho Vandal in the White House? That's a tempting proposition for this Eastern Washington native. However, I think I'll stick with Obama.

    August 29, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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